Researchers have developed a new technology that promises to boost the performance of lithium metal batteries.
Pledging to be the candidate for the next generation of rechargeable batteries, the breakthrough was led by Professor Hyun-Wook Lee in the School of Energy and Chemical Engineering at UNIST. This was in collaboration with the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research, based in Singapore.
Lithium metal batteries are a type of rechargeable battery that have lithium as an anode. Among several different cathode materials, lithium metal is good in that it has the lowest driving voltage and boasts about 10 times more capacity than conventional graphite anodes.
Therefore, the tech has been gaining much attention as a potential next-generation anode material for electric vehicles and large-scale energy storage systems.
However, conventional lithium metal anodes tend to form dendritic structures, which are known to trigger internal short circuits by piercing through the battery separator. So, the researchers observed that a much more uniform lithium dissolution/deposition modified lithium anode can be achieved as compared to the bare lithium electrode.
They suppressed the dendritic growth of lithium metal anode by coating the lithium foil with a lithium silicide (LixSi) layer. As if by magic, the results showed better electrochemical performances in terms of rate capability and cycle stability.
"Our study provides the direct observation on the electrochemical behaviour, volume expansion, as well as the lithium dendrite growth of lithium metal anodes," said Professor Lee.
"Applying this in real battery will also help contribute to the commercialisation of lithium metal batteries."
So you never know, the breakthrough could help extend the life of smartphone batteries that usually due before the end of a working day.
The research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea funded by the Ministry of Education.
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